Other than Action Bronson, Kristopher Patrick Edelen is New York City’s most whimsical and adventurous chef. From his Blueberry 8 Day Fried Pork to his Bubble Gum Grape Soda Chicken Hearts, Edelen (better known as Chef KPE), wants to show you food through sex appeal and fun.
We had the chance to speak about the somewhat dated stylings of 00’s Pop and Rock, on the second floor of a Pret A Manger in Flatiron. Dated, yet appropriate for the conversation, Chef KPE reminisced about his humble beginnings, long nights and the beads of sweat that led him to this present position and what’s in store for the future.
It’s not ironic that today’s ingredient shaker of the Modernist Food Movement found his calling during a time of puberty and babysitting. While watching over a young child, he made a couple of spaghetti servings from scratch. The positive response received by both the child and his mother only added fuel to the fire. Born in California, with roots in both Indianapolis and the DMV area of DC, KPE cites his culinary influence to come mainly from the south, a region known for its comfort foods. KPE’s nana, however, was his very first kitchen instructor; being under her wing for every meal from a Sunday gathering to a family reunion. Together (to the delight of the family), they put their foot in each dish, from hot water cornbread to peanut brittle.
Since comfort food is not the most aesthetically appealing eats to exist, KPE throws a northeast twist with a youthful flare on his dishes. Altering the texture and color of many of his dishes add a sophisticated and childhood nostalgia to each presentation. There’s a high level of planning that goes into each dish, which KPE explains “could take up to half a month to a month to get it exactly how I want it because there are so many methods that can be implemented. It’s never ending.” These alterations come from a variety of techniques: Why just make chopped sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top when you can whip them, pipe them through a tube, then add the marshmallows and freeze those bad boys in liquid nitrogen? KPE not only recreates the texture of the dish, but he also adds colorful concepts to his presentation. When he’s all finished up don’t expect a lumpy mass. Be prepared for a decadent form.
To be this precise and unique, KPE pulls from an unexpected but expected inspiration— Ronald Dahl’s “Willy Wonka”: “Ever since the first grade, I wanted to be this huge candy maker that does all these crazy things with food and I took that leap, now using whatever ingredients in the kitchen and what is around to incorporate into my meal.”